Blog, Politics, Psychology

Post Traumatic Trump Disorder

Originally published November 17, 2017 on The Huffington Post

A strange, highly disturbing affliction is haunting the land: Post Traumatic Trump Disorder or PTTD. It’s characterized by intense feelings of anxiety, frequent and uncontrolled attacks of anger and hostility, fits of shouting at the news, and pronounced fear of strangers.

PTTD is due basically to a highly disturbed and unstable leader who suffers from a cluster of serious mental issues such as acute paranoia, frequent and persistent psychotic breaks from reality, uncontrollable fantasies and delusions, pathological narcissism, the inability to engage with complex ideas, and no impulse control. The issues are so pronounced that they have caused mental health professionals to break with their long-standing tradition of not commenting on the psychological states of mind of those they have not examined personally.

Except from removing the disturbed individual from office, there are no know treatments for PTTD, especially since the person refuses to acknowledge the nature of their illness and thus to seek treatment.

The people in blue states are particularly affected by PTTD. The only option they have is to huddle in small groups and pray that a healthy leader will finally emerge to reverse the onerous effects of PTTD and heal the nation.

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Blog, Politics, Psychology

Stop Asking Trump for Policies He’s Incapable of Formulating

Originally publishes April 16, 2017 on The Huffington Post

Whether it’s Syria, healthcare, taxes, immigration, etc., every time I hear someone ask for a coherent statement of policy from the Trump Administration, I want to scream, “Don’t you realize that mentally disturbed persons are incapable of ‘well-thought-out, clearly formulated policies?’ ” Instead, they are the prisoners of their impulses and the delusional voices in their heads. No wonder why they flit uncontrollably from one stance to another without any sense of coherence or consistency.

So don’t bother me with cries for “rational, well-thought-out policies” when the person supposedly in charge is not in charge of themselves. All we can do is survive somehow the madness that swirls around us daily.

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Blog, Politics, Psychology

News Alert: Psychologists Discover Pathological Pettiness (PP)

Originally published February 10, 2017 on the Huffington Post

Psychologists have discovered a new mental disorder for which there is no known treatment: Pathological Pettiness or PP for short. The condition is manifested by the constant need to respond bitterly to the slightest threats to one’s person. Thus, the numbers of people for and against one are magnified all out of proportion. In short, the person cannot tolerate anything that diminishes his or her sense of self-worth.

The condition is difficult to diagnose and treat because it similar to other well-known disturbances such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The primary difference is that controlled lab experiments reveal that those suffering from PP are able to detect the most minute slights to their person that those suffering from other disorders are able to ignore.

Quarantines have been proposed until one can get a better handle on treating the disease. If unchecked, the fear is that PP will spread uncontrollably and thus infect sizable numbers of the population. If this were to happen, an accompanying disorder would take hold, Alternative Fact Syndrome, the need to make up whatever suits one’s sense of realty. There is also no known treatment for this highly disturbing and infectious disease as well.

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Blog, Politics, Psychology

Where are all the adults?

Originally Published 12/14/16 on Nation of Change

The election of someone so unfit as Trump to be President not only opens up, but relives old traumas. No wonder why Trump arouses such intense feelings.

An important concept from General Psychology, the Parentified Child, is key to understanding why so many are suffering from feelings that everything is completely falling apart. In a word, many are not only overwhelmed by, but alternate between intense feelings of anger, hopelessness, and despair.

Parentified Children are children who early in life had to assume the role of a parent because their actual parents were unable to function as adults. Whether the parents suffered from debilitating mental illness, serious alcohol or drug addiction, were generally incompetent, or were unavailable emotionally, the basic roles between parents and children were fundamentally reversed.

Because the parents weren’t dependable, or fully present, the children had no alternative but to step in and keep things running as best they could. Thus, the children often prepared meals, dressed younger kids for school, etc. But as a result, the children had no childhoods themselves. This not only produced major bouts of depression later in life (normal disappointments and setbacks were magnified), but lifelong feelings of intense anger towards the parents, and adults in general.

I know all of this for a fact for I was a Parentified Child. My mother suffered from a chronic, debilitating form of depression and my father drove a cab at nights to get away from a sick wife and two young kids. My brother and I were thereby essentially left on our own to care for our mother and ourselves as best we could, which was difficult since there was barely enough money for food and rent for the run-down flats in which we lived.

However, I was blessed with brains. Since I didn’t want to live like my parents, and I did extremely well in school, I embraced education with a fierce passion. It was my ticket out of poverty. I not only ended up getting a PhD, but became a professor and a student for life. In short, those who have the character to survive bad, if not lost, childhoods have also developed the fortitude and will that are necessary for success later in life.

As a result of both my background and education, I understand perfectly what many are feeling, namely where are all the adults who are supposed to help take care of us? Just when the office of the Presidency calls for the most mature, healthy-minded, and highly functioning adult, we’ve elected someone who at best is nothing more than a highly disturbed child, and clearly, an out-and-out demagogue. This not only angers me greatly, but absolutely scares me to hell. My worst nightmare has come to life. Once again the children are put in the position of acting as grownups.

The election of someone so unfit as Trump to be President not only opens up, but relives old traumas. No wonder why Trump arouses such intense feelings.

If in addition, we add what’s going on in the world around us, then truly a dark cloud of bitter hopelessness has descended upon us: Civility has all but vanished. We’re assaulted daily by rudeness everywhere we turn. Dangerous driving has reached epidemic proportions. Madmen are in control of crazy so-called nation states. We live under a perpetual cloud of terrorism. Before and after Trump’s election, there’s been a dangerous surge in hate crimes. The one-percent continue to enrich themselves at the literal expense of everyone else. Callous unfeeling madmen do indeed run the world. They have to be carefully monitored and checked assiduously every day.

If there is a saving grace, and I believe there is, Parentified Children also live with an abiding sense of hope that things will ultimately get better, that somewhere, somehow, adults will eventually come to the rescue. I have never given up the hope that things will get better. After all, they did for me.

But for real hope to exist, we first have to recognize and accept that we are going through what Parentified Children suffered early in life.

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Blog, Politics, Psychology

The Parentized Child Presidency

Originally published 12/09/16 on Nation of Change

Those of us who didn’t vote for Trump–the cast-off, disadvantaged children–will have to monitor Trump very closely.

A central concept from Psychoanalysis, the Parentized Child, is key to understanding why Donald Trump was elected in the first place, and secondly, what must be done to preserve the nation from the damage he will surely wreck.

Parentized Children are children who early in life had to assume the role of a parent because their actual parents were not up to the task of acting as adults. Whether the parents suffered from debilitating mental illness, serious alcohol or drug addiction, or were generally incompetent, the basic roles between parents and children were fundamentally reversed. Because the parents weren’t dependable, the children had no alternative but to step in and keep things running as best they could. Thus, the children prepared meals, dressed younger kids for school, etc. But as a result, the children had no childhood. This not only produced major bouts of depression later in life, but lifelong anger.

Of course, I don’t know what Trump’s childhood was actually like, but it’s clear that we’ve put someone who is not fully developed—a highly disturbed child—into a role that calls for an extremely competent, healthy adult. I suspect that a major factor for this is the fact that Hillary was viewed as extremely flawed parent who couldn’t be trusted. Therefore, a seriously undeveloped child was viewed, at least by those who voted for him, as the only sensible alternative. In effect, were those who voted for Trump acting as Parentized Children in expressing their intense hatred of Hillary? Was “Lock Her Up!” really a barely disguised call to “Lock Up the Bad Parent?”

Here’s precisely where another fundamental role reversal is called for. Those of us who didn’t vote for Trump–the cast-off, disadvantaged children–will have to monitor Trump very closely because a child acting in the role that calls for a healthy, well-developed adult cannot be trusted for one nanosecond to head the biggest “family” in the world. In short, are we cast into the role of Parentized Children?

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Blog, Politics, Psychology

The Unraveling Of The American Mind

Originally published August 2nd, 2016 in the Huffington Post

Donald Trump is the quintessential illustration of the phenomenon known as Splitting that the highly influential child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein identified early in the 20th century. Indeed, he is the poster child for Splitting!

Even though I have written about Klein before in The Huffington Post, her ideas bear repeating since they are indispensable in understanding our current predicament.

By means of play therapy, which she literally invented, Klein was able to get at the earliest, preverbal, unconscious fantasies of children during the first two to three years of their lives. Since young children couldn’t talk cogently about their innermost feelings and emotions, Klein was able to see what was going on by observing how children treated dolls that represented the prime characters in their lives. Thus, if the mommy and daddy dolls were constantly angry and fighting with one another and the child doll, then Klein was able to understand the emotional conflicts the child was struggling to deal with. For this reason, it is said that if Freud discovered the child in the adult, then Klein discovered the infant in the child. Klein thus pushed back even further our understanding of the roots of human behavior.

One of Klein’s earliest discoveries was that the fantasies of very young children revealed that there is an extremely powerful and destructive side to humans during the first years of their lives. The fantasies were basically due to the fact that very young children experienced extreme anger and frustration over the fact that they didn’t have complete control over the primary caretaker who was responsible for feeding them both physically and emotionally. When Klein wrote early in the 20th century, this was primarily the mother.

Klein established that under the age of three, children split the image of the mother into a “good mother” who cared and administered to the child’s every need exactly when the child wanted it and a “ bad mother” who had to discipline the child and couldn’t be there exactly on the child’s schedule. Because the child’s mind was not yet mature enough, it couldn’t comprehend, let alone reconcile, that the “good” and the “bad mother” were one and the same. In other words, to the young child, there were two separate mothers.

This helps to explain why fairytales are so appealing to young children. The “good witch” and “bad witch” help young children cope psychologically with the issues they are struggling to comprehend. Namely, how can young children reconcile that the good and the bad mother are one and the same? Thus, fairytales allow children to “act out” safely the emotional conflicts they are experiencing. That’s why the “bad witch” is always killed—indeed, has to die—and the “good witch” eventually triumphs.

(Notice carefully that when Splitting is not understood for what it is, then the fairytales of young children easily morph into destructive national myths, stories, and fantasies about “dangerous foreigners” who are out to “rape and murder us.”)

One of the critical functions of the parents is to provide a “healthy container” to help the young child literally “contain” the raging emotions that pulse through them uncontrollably. If the parents do not either over or under react to the child’s emotions, verbal outbursts, and fantasies, then the child eventually learns to contain his or her emotions and hence heal the split images between the “good” and the “bad” parents. The child eventually comes to accept emotionally that the “good” and the “bad” aspects of the parents are located in the same person. He or she also eventually comes to accept that there are good and bad sides to everyone, especially themselves. Nonetheless, even under the best of circumstances, Splitting lasts for a lifetime.

Klein termed the earliest stage of human development “the paranoid-schizoid position.” It was “paranoid” because the young child feared that the parent would either hurt or abandon him or her; “schizoid” because of the phenomenon of Splitting.

Most children naturally develop out of this earlier stage, but some form of Splitting stays with us our entire lives. Indeed, in times of extreme stress or threat, we shouldn’t be surprised at all to find people regressing or reverting back to the paranoid-schizoid position.

With Trump’s constant denigration of blacks, Hispanics, women, Muslims, etc., Splitting is constantly on display. In short, it’s a major component of Trump’s character and persona.

One of the worst consequences of Splitting is that those who are under its grip promote and engage in actions that actually further their dangerous views of the world. They become self-fulfilling.

They actually believe that there are “good” versus “bad guys” and that the differences between them are real and clear-cut. Further, since the bad guys are extremely dangerous, if not evil through and through, they must be controlled by any means, if not eliminated altogether. The supreme irony is that through their beliefs and actions, they are responsible for the creation of “bad guys.” But then, one’s inner fears are often projected outwards. For how can the “bad guys” be part of oneself?

In casting Trump as a premier example of Splitting, I am of course engaging in the very phenomenon as well. He is The Supreme Bad Guy!

No one is ever entirely free of Splitting. The only difference is between those who are aware of it and those who are not, but then there I go again!

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